The Decade in Astronomy
With 2020 marking the end of the 2010s decade, we can proudly look back at achievements made in space exploration throughout the decade. Scientists have discovered super-bright pulsars, a new class of supernovae, a potentially habitable planet and even ancient galaxies. In 2012, the Curiosity Rover reached Mars to search for habitable environments while in the same year NASA’s space probe Voyager-1 entered interstellar space after its launch in 1977. In 2015 we were able to take a look at Pluto as the Horizon Probe flew past it.
Space-X made headlines as they developed the world’s first reusable space rocket Falcon-9 and successfully recovered it after its space mission. Astronomers observed a mysterious planet, named as ‘Planet 9’ that is 10 times the size of our planet Earth. In 2016, the space probe that took 5 years on its journey, reached Jupiter and began gathering information about the planet’s origin and evolution.
Another incredible feat was accomplished when the space mission Cassini-Huygens marked the end of its 13-year mission by plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere. In 2019, astronomers celebrated in awed as the ‘Event Horizon Telescope’ team was able to release the first-ever image of a black hole. To learn more about exoplanets and extraterrestrial life, the European Space Agency recently launched a telescope to orbit and examine over 4,000 exoplanets.
Advancements in the Medical Field
Recognizing the importance of modern technology in the medical field, researchers and doctors have been able to find possible methods of treatment for previously untreatable diseases such as Ebola, drug-resistant TB, HIV and Meningitis A. Researchers at John Hopkins were able to introduce liquid biopsy that made possible for scientists to detect 8 types of cancers, 5 of which had no screening methods available before. With the rapid advancements in 3-D printing, scientists have been able to 3-D print the artificial limbs and essential organs such as kidneys, liver and even some parts of the heart.
For Type-1 Diabetes patients, a device known as ‘Artificial Pancreas’ was introduced with which patients could check their glucose levels with a needle like probe attached to the device. CRISPR-Cas9 technology enables researchers to edit parts of the genome by removing, adding, or altering sections of DNA. Moreover, scientists made headlines when it was reported that they have successfully made synthetic DNA. In addition to that, projects such as developing an application for monitoring heart health, testing a laser-sonic scanner that can see through breast tumors and introducing contact lenses to prevent blindness in diabetic patients have also been successful.
Advancements in AI and IT
From 2010 to this day, the growing advancements in technology and artificial intelligence have redefined our everyday lives for the better. With improved systems and widespread networks, the number of internet users doubled from 2 Billion to 4 Billion with which the sales of smartphones also skyrocketed. In the past few years alone, companies have been able to successfully launch 4G and 5G.
Artificial Intelligence marked its peak this decade as it has been developing greatly. Algorithms were created to make possible for machines to recognize facial features, voices and obey certain commands due to which the rise of virtual home assistants has been possible. This is not only helpful for persons with disabilities but a great step towards future smart homes.
Climate Change and Sustainability
In order to tackle problems regarding sustainability and climate change, scientists conducted studies predicting how climate change affects weather. To help provide a solution for carbon emissions, electrically powered vehicles were introduced. Recognizing our ever-growing reliance on fossil fuels, researchers worked tirelessly to introduce sustainable methods of power generation. New catalysts were developed to improve food production for the ever-growing global population.
Written by Aliza Khan